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Lenovo inches a step closer to buying BlackBerry

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Lenovo could be about to make a bid for BlackBerry as it signs a nondisclosure agreement in order to gain access to the smartphone pioneer's financial details.

The Chinese computer manufacturer has shown an interest in the Canadian business - famous for its Qwerty keyboard devices - since it announced it was struggling to keep up with the touchscreen-centric market earlier this year.

Lenovo's chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming told Bloomberg in August that the firm would consider a deal with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM). "We are looking at all opportunities, RIM and many others," he said.

He went on to add: "We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders."

Lenova will face regulatory obstacles if it puts in an offer for the whole of BlackBerry's dwindling empire though.

The whole-company bid would include its hardware unit as well as its secure corporate and government email network and experts claim that the latter service is likely to be sold to a North American business because of security concerns.

Plus, in Canada bids from foreign companies are required to pass a government review to check for economic benefit and security risk if they exceed a certain threshold.

Lenovo is joined by competitors Cisco Systems Inc, Google Inc and Germany's SAP AG, all also showing interest in snapping up all or part of the BlackBerry.

The groups must counter an offer made by private equity firm Fairfax Financial Holdings before November 4 to be in the running.

When contacted, a spokesperson for Lenovo stated that it was policy not to comment on speculation.

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